This is chapter 8 of “Redemption” a fictional tale set in the EVE Universe. Please see this page for more background on this story.
“You smell good, little dancer”, the old, blind Matari man said, and it could not have been less appropriate. She had scrubbed herself for hours and when she run out of soap, she used the industrial cleaner intended for the floors – and she used lots of it. It stung her skin, it reeked and it did not make her feel any cleaner. Lydie was running on autopilot when she turned up at the Matari camp in the early hours and sat next to the old man. She couldn’t tell Mum, she couldn’t tell the “authorities” – whatever they were. They would not believe her and if they did, nothing would happen. So, Lydie sat down next to the old man, hoping that nobody would notice her bruises. And of course everyone did. Trained killers develop an almost spiritual situational awareness. That something terrible had happened to Lydie was clear to everyone as soon as she sat down. But combat practice continued.
The old man wasn’t born blind, that much was obvious. He had suffered terrible injuries to his face that gouged out his eyes – but a very, very long time ago. While he never partook in the combat practice, he held an almost revered position among his fellow Minmatar. Why, Lydie never knew. Until now. The old man spoke:
“You smell like the industrial cleaner they made us scrub the prison floor with years ago”. A pause. “We found out that it has curious chemical properties”. A smile of good memories flashed across his face. “See, mixed with ordinary fuel it evaporates at ~80C. It turns into steam. The funny thing is that the steam is extremely explosive. A single spark will light it. Like a light switch for example. Confined to a small room – say – it will cause a nice explosion”. He turned his dead eyes to Lydie. “Sometimes a little too big of an explosion, be careful, little dancer”.
“Technically, its a detonation, not an explosion” a voice said behind Lydie. She turned. A man approached. She had sparred with him, often to absolute exhaustion but she had never heard him speak. “The liquid is perfectly harmless, won’t even burn”. He continued. “By the way, we are leaving tonight – we found a Minmatar transport who will take us back. We have unfinished business.” He handed her a large, heavy lantern “we won’t need this lantern. It is full of fuel. Use it wisely”. He also handed her surprisingly heavy sack. “Ball bearings” he said, “might come in handy”.
The Minmatar fighters stood. Each and every one of them approached Lydie, looked her in the eye and nodded. Nothing else. Just the nod. It was more comfort to her than any hug could have been, it was more respect than she had ever received and it was a sign that her world can continue, that she was still in charge of her destiny. What happened to her needed to be revenged. It was not her fault. She did not cause it, it was not her fault, not her fault.
She stood alone with the heavy sack and the lantern in a disused cargo bay of this Amarr station and took stock of her life. She was alive. She had a job to do.
Three days later, the Matari group had indeed left. How, nobody knew and nobody really cared. There was no “census” in the refugee camp per se, every few months some Gallente government official would be ushered in by a posse of Amarr religious police, quite unable to do anything for the refugees beyond smuggling news in. Orv sent messages, that he was doing well and trying the official channels to get them out. It seemed the entire refugee camp was a pawn in someone’s chessgame – someone with a lot of time on his hands. Lydie could not send any message back to her brother but a plan had taken root in hr head, if the Minmatar can bribe themselves onto a transport, she and her mum could do the same, right?
The next morning, Lydie made her mum’s bed and fed her breakfast. Mum didn’t quite recognize her anymore, sometimes called her “Orv”. Lydie dressed her when Mum’s eyes suddenly focused and gripped her eyes. “I travel in my dreams, Lydie. I travel far, to where dad is. He sends his love. He says that you are doing a great thing, taking care of me but you have to stop. You have to let me go and live your own life”. Lydie was frozen in place. “Lydie, you are my only daughter. Go find Orv, help him to forgive that Amarr capsuleer who killed your father. Yes, he killed your father but that hate is now killing Orv, just slower and from the inside”. She paused, her eyes lost focus. “Dad wants you both to grow up to love, not to fight. Remember the three washers, Dad gave you? He says they still protect you if you believe in them”. Mum’s gaze drifted. She was gone again to wherever she had her conversations with Dad. Lydie stroke her hair and told Mum that all will be well. She just had to run a little errand and they will go and see Orv. There maybe some noise but Mum shouldn’t be afraid, Lydie would look out for her. Lydie wasn’t sure whether Mum actually got any of that and stood up. She had packed two bags with as many rations as she could scrape together, clothes and things she may be needing for their long journey. Mum smiled her good bye, already speaking with dad about Orv’s kindergarten math grades.
Lydie walked slowly towards the gate. She had packed 2 bags, one for Mum, one for herself, collected the left-over rations and clothes from the Minmatar and left them in their shelter. She only carried the lantern with fuel and the sack of ball bearings towards the guard station. The guards were on their rounds and would not be back for another hour. Enough time.
She had not been in this room since the night of her birthday. She had seen the guards who pretended not to know here and she knew they were on shift tonight. There was no cake on the table. She remembered it well. She remember the the entire evening very well, as if she had watched it happen to someone else. Lydie approached the massive, iron Samovar which had been turned off over night. She found screwcap where she normally would fill the water and opened it. The detergent was stored in the closet and she carried the fuel for the lamp. Lydie quickly drained the entire fuel into the cold Samovar, then poured the ball bearings into the same cavern.
With all the fuel and ball bearings gone in, Lydie topped the Samovar off with the industrial detergent. It held a lot of volume, about twice as much as Lydie had thought. The detergent masked the fuel smell effectively and once she screwed the cap back on, there was no sign that anything was different. Satisfied that she left nothing behind, Lydie flicked the switch that would slowly heat up the mixture deep in the iron kettle. It would take an hour to come to temperature, just in time when the guards would come back. She knew them. They would walk in, joking about the refugees and how they could use them as slaves. Then they would get mugs, add their disgusting tea powder – whatever that was and open the pressure tap of the Samovar. A small jet of gas would fill the room and ignite, hopefully burn the guards badly, maybe even kill them. Rescue squads would come, Lydie would use the confusion to drag Mum out and their journey would begin. Lydie had chosen her prettiest School Uniform and even bound her hair in Amarr fashion. She would somehow convince a hauler or even a capsuleer to stow them away. She didn’t know how exactly but she was convinced that she could do it, she was cute and deadly, a combination that should solve all problem
Lydie walked out, back to the former Minmatar camp which already attracted some pathetic scavengers from the Gallente camp picking though what they had left behind. Lydie still had a fearsome reputation but it was by association – and now her protectors had gone. The scavengers looked at her differently. Lydie dropped the Lantern and the empty sack and went back to her camp to change. Mum was fast asleep.
Not much time left. The guards would arrive in 10 minutes at their room. Her plan had been to stay with her Mum and use the confusion to get her out. But Lydie felt the urge to get closer. She wanted to see for herself what would happen and she casually strolled to the fence. She spotted the guards on their round, right on schedule. Lydie knew that they would enter the room, close the heavy steel door and pour a drink. The room would contain the explosion and she would run with mum past through the main gate when the rescue squat came through. There was no way that she could be caught, she left no evidence and had not be seen. But she was afraid the guards may see her loitering, recognizing her and stop their rounds, so Lydie crammed herself into a little nook of the outside wall. Behind her was a window the the main corridor – intentionally blackened out from the outside. The nook concealed her but she could see the guards as they entered the room, closing the heavy steel door behind them.
Lydie waited what seemed an eternity. It may not have worked. She never tested it and relied on the words of an old, crazy Minmatar escaped slave. Did she actually switch it on? Could the guards smell the fuel / cleaner mix? Did a safety valve somehow shut down the massive Samovar?
Her questions were answered when she spotted a bright flash, like a halo of the door. A tremor shook her feet and the next thing Lydie saw was the door blowing away from the hinges towards her. Behind the door nothing but featureless, blinding white. Then a secondary flash appeared, much bigger, behind the guard room, ripping open the walls of the hangar bay, its light filling the entire refugee quarter. Lydie felt the heat from this second explosion like storm of sharp needles in her face before the pressure wave picked her up like a toy and smashed her with incredible force through the window behind her. Lydie’s last memory was that of a burning light filling her world, searing pain across her face and the knowledge that something had gone horribly, horribly wrong with her plan.